Narratives of sexual health risk and protection amongst young people from refugee backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia

Cult Health Sex. 2010 Apr;12(3):263-77. doi: 10.1080/13691050903359265.


Young people with refugee backgrounds face many challenges when making their lives in a resettlement country and their sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked. This paper reports on sexual health literacy amongst recently arrived young refugees settling in Melbourne, Australia. Qualitative methods were used to explore how resettled youth access, interpret and implement sexual health information, with a particular focus on how social contexts shape attitudes and understandings. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with 142 participants aged between 16 and 25 years. Findings reveal that while young people had some knowledge of HIV and AIDS, knowledge of other STIs was limited. Importantly, narratives about risk and protection were informed by concerns for maintenance of social wellbeing. Sexual health promotion should be an explicit component of early resettlement services for youth with refugee backgrounds and strategies need to take account of the pre-migration and resettlement contexts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • HIV Infections
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Reproductive Health Services
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Unsafe Sex / ethnology*
  • Victoria
  • Young Adult